Afternoon Lecture Series

The Afternoon Lecture Series is held at Locust Grove on the first Wednesday of each month, with the exception of January and May. This series features presenters from around the region speaking on topics related to the lives of the Croghans, Clarks, and the history of Kentucky. Dessert and coffee are served at 1:00 pm with the lecture immediately following at 1:15 pm. Admission is $6, $4 for Locust Grove members. Reservations are not required.

Recordings or text of past lectures may be accessed below.

March 11, 2020

Gwynne Tuell Potts | Major William Croghan

Historian Gwynne Potts, author of George Rogers Clark and William Croghan, talks about her new research on the life of Major William Croghan, whose Irish roots and American story contrast with, and intertwine with, Clark’s better-known life. Croghan’s story has been more obscure than his famous brother-in-law’s; but Pott’s book reveals new insights that will influence our interpretation of the Croghans of Locust Grove from now on.

Text of March 11, 2020 lecture by Gwynne Potts

February 5, 2020

Andrea Meriwether | Black & Barreled: African-American contributions in Early Distilling

Bourbon Historian and Consultant Andrea Meriwether talks about her groundbreaking research and insights into the involvement of enslaved and free blacks in the expansion of farm distilling into an industry in early Kentucky. Ms. Meriwether calls bourbon “a conduit” into an understanding of Kentucky’s economy, culture, and race relations, and into the lives of skilled black creators of a beloved American product. Learn more about this topic and how it relates to upcoming programs at Locust Grove’s farm distillery.


November 7, 2019
Frank Kelderman: Afloat at Locust Grove: Traversing Indian Diplomacy on the Ohio River

In 1842, the Choctaw diplomat Peter Pitchlynn had a chance encounter with the author Charles Dickens on a steamboat on the Ohio River, between Cincinnati and Louisville. Pitchlynn was returning from diplomatic business in Washington; Dickens was traveling the country to write his “American Notes” (1842). In this talk, Frank Kelderman takes Dickens’s account of their meeting as a starting point for exploring the Ohio River as a thoroughfare for Indian diplomacy, connecting the eastern United States to Indian country. Drawing on literature, visual art, and archival materials, this talk will give an account of indigenous presence in a region where that presence has long been unrecognized.

Frank Kelderman is an assistant professor of English at the University of Louisville, where he specializes in 19th-century Native American literature. He is the author of “Authorized Agents: Publication and Diplomacy in the Era of Indian Removal” (SUNY Press, 2019), which examines Native American writing and oratory from the Upper Missouri River to the Great Lakes. His research has also been published in the journals “American Literature,” “American Studies,” “J19: The Journal of Nineteenth-Century Americanists,” and “Great Plains Quarterly.”

This program is part of the city-wide program Afloat: An Ohio River Way of Life.

Kelderman Reading Recommendations

October 2, 2019
Stuart Sanders: Kentucky Duels

You’re aware of Alexander Hamilton’s duel with Aaron Burr, but did you know that there were some remarkable affairs of honor in Kentucky? Join author and public historian Stuart W. Sanders to discuss some of the Commonwealth’s most remarkable duels and their impact on the Bluegrass State. It’s a lecture at ten paces!

September 4, 2019
Kate Hesseldenz: Margaretta’s Guest: Lafayette’s visit to Liberty Hall

Lafayette, the last surviving Major General of the Revolutionary War, embarked on a great tour of the United States in 1824-1825 as the “Nation’s Guest.” Why did he visit Liberty Hall in May of 1825? Why did Margaretta Brown feel triumphant after his visit? Did John Brown serve as an aid to Lafayette during the war? In this talk, Liberty Hall Curator Kate Hesseldenz will answer these questions as you learn about Lafayette’s connections to the Browns of Liberty Hall.

August 7, 2019
Sons of the American Revolution: Funding Freedom: Making Dollars & “Cents” of the American Revolution

Revolutions cost money. Even before the United States declared its independence it was riddled with debt. Seasoned financiers traded bills of exchange with foreign nations while wealthy Patriots were asked to give until it left them penniless. Promissory notes, personal loans and a financial network of correspondence forecast a nation built on credit. Colonists yearned to be independent yet valor on the battlefield alone would not be enough to acquire freedom. Colleen Wilson and Zac Distel from the Sons of the American Revolution will take us through the economy of the American Revolution and the years that followed.

July 3, 2019
Jason Hiner: The Burr-Hamilton Duel of 1804

Jason Hiner, Locust Grove first-person interpreter and history aficionado, will tell us about the Hamilton-Burr duel and how it became a gruesome symbol of the bitter and partisan political infighting among America’s founders. This talk explores who Hamilton and Burr were, the different opinions they had about politics and politicians, and why their differences led to a duel that left Hamilton dead and turned America’s Vice-President into an outlaw.

June 5, 2019
Richard Bell: The African American Revolution

We all know that the American Revolution was about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. But what did those slogans mean to black people caught up in that war? Historian Richard Bell explains that African Americans actually threw themselves into the war effort with more enthusiasm (and with more at stake) than did many white colonists. Come hear about Crispus Attucks, who was slain in a hail of redcoat gunfire during the Boston Massacre, and about Harry Washington, the runaway slave from George Washington’s Mount Vernon, who fled to British lines during the war and then sailed with the retreating redcoat army to Canada and then later to Sierra Leone.

Stories like theirs beg us to think about the stakes of the American Revolution from their perspective and to wonder just how revolutionary the American Revolution was for people of color. As you’ll hear, the war itself did bring new opportunities for independence as the British Army promised freedom to black slaves like Harry who might be willing to desert their rebel masters and join the King’s regiments. But it turns out that the war’s outcome was far more mixed. In the north, patriot victory spurred the rise of the anti-slavery movement but in the south helped to preserve plantation slavery for generations to come.


March 6, 2019
Scott Erbes: The Art and Mystery of Kentucky Antiques: Treasures from the Speed Art Museum

Scott Erbes, Curator of Decorative Arts and Design, will provide a behind-the-scenes look at highlights from the Speed Art Museum’s outstanding Kentucky collection—everything from furniture to textiles. Along the way, we will also look at some of the tricks of the trade used when examining Kentucky antiques.

February 6, 2019
Dr. Carol Ely: The Burr Conspiracy

In disgrace, the former Vice President, Aaron Burr, headed west in 1805 on an ambiguous private mission to develop areas of the west – was it treason? Why did he stop at Locust Grove? Was George Rogers Clark implicated in his plans? Learn more about Burr’s life and actions after the duel that made him notorious.

October 3, 2018
Jennifer Spence: Kentucky’s Audubon: The Life and Work of John James Audubon in Kentucky

John James Audubon, America’s first great artist, lived in Kentucky for nearly 13 years. He began his married life here, his four children were born in Kentucky, and he made many drawings for his life’s work, Birds of America, in Kentucky. Audubon’s Kentucky years had a profound impact on his family and his work as an artist-naturalist. Jennifer Spence, curator of the John James Audubon Museum in Henderson, KY, will use examples from her museum’s collection as a lens for understanding “Kentucky’s Audubon.”

September 5, 2018
Stuart Sanders: Kentucky and the Value of History

History—and historic sites—are important to Kentucky’s identity and economy. Join Stuart Sanders, the Kentucky Historical Society’s History Advocate, to learn how museums, communities, and businesses are using history to craft solutions for challenges that we face today.

August 1, 2018
Sandy Staebell: Faces & Places in Kentucky Quilts & Textiles

Quilts and other textiles frequently use faces and places that are tied to memory and provide a sense of identity, family, or place. In some, these images were based on real-life individuals such as President George Washington and Kentuckians Henry Clay, George Rogers Clark, and Robert Penn Warren, while in others they were inspired by fictional characters such as Don Quixote or children, real and or imagined. Examples of “places” found in textiles include state quilts, governmental buildings, churches, and honeymoon cottages. Sandy Staebell is the Registrar and Collections Curator at the Kentucky Museum at Western Kentucky University.
This program was funded in part by the Kentucky Humanities Council, Inc. and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Information about the Kentucky Museum’s current exhibition Kaleidoscope: Kentucky Museum Quilts may be found here.

July 11, 2018
Christopher Quirk: Stabilization at Locust Grove

Preservation architect Christopher Quirk presents an overview of the assessment process and design considerations that led to the selected treatment of Locust Grove. The presentation will also include progress photos from the installation of the wall anchors and removal of flooring at the attic level. Last summer’s masonry reinforcement project was the culmination of seven years of assessment and design exploration by architects and engineers who specialize in historic preservation. The task of stabilizing walls was made particularly challenging as the extensive interior reinterpretation had been completed, and ceiling and wall finishes could not be compromised.

April 4, 2018
Steve Wiser: Louisville Then And Now

Architect Steve Wiser presents images of how Louisville appeared over the past 100 years as compared to what these same locations look like today, offering a fascinating juxtaposition of how the streetscapes and culture have changed.

March 7, 2018
Joy Gleason Carew: Upstairs/Downstairs at Locust Grove: A Reconsideration of Women’s (and Girls’) Work

Many times, when visiting historic homes from the 18th and early 19th Centuries, we are told to envision the lives of the people who lived in these rooms by taking cues from their portraits, diaries and letters. We compare them with other period houses, noting the design of their living spaces, their clothes and even the type of wallpaper they used. But, while these portraits and other materials give us glimpses into these lives, they often tell us very little about the lives of the many others whose service was invaluable to the functioning of these homes. This talk, coming in Women’s History Month, will help us enter the lives of some of the women of Locust Grove: Lucy Croghan and her daughters, Ann and Elizabeth, as well as peek into the lives of several enslaved women and children who lived here with them and other family members. Dr. Joy Gleason Carew is Professor of Pan-African Studies at the University of Louisville.

February 7, 2018
Chris Goodlett: “Let Louisville Have Her Derby Day”: Meriwether Lewis Clark, Jr. and the Early History of the Kentucky Derby

Run at Churchill Downs in Louisville annually since 1875, the Kentucky Derby is an iconic international sporting and cultural event. An estimated 10,000 spectators gathered at the track for the inaugural running and the Daily Louisville Commercial opined that the Derby “…is destined to become the great race of this country, and it has been suggested that “Derby Day” be observed as a holiday.” In this presentation, Chris Goodlett, the Director of Curatorial and Educational Affairs at the Kentucky Derby Museum, focuses on the creation and early history of the Kentucky Derby and the role of track founder Meriwether Lewis Clark, Jr., grandson of William Clark. Despite the initial enthusiasm for the race, it faced many challenges during its first 25 years. How track management dealt with these challenges and the impact on Clark’s legacy are among the focal points of the program.

October 4, 2017


Jim Holmberg: The Clarks of Kentucky

Few families loom so large in Kentucky’s pioneer history as the Clarks. Revolutionary War hero George Rogers Clark is famous, as is his brother, explorer William Clark. But there were other immediate Clark family members – eight other siblings who contributed in various ways to not only Kentucky’s but the nation’s history. Referring to them as the “patriotic Clarks” wouldn’t be amiss. From their deep roots in Virginia, the family of John and Ann Rogers Clark went west to Kentucky and made their mark. In this lecture, Jim Holmberg will discuss the John and Ann Clark family, from the famous Hannibal of the West – George Rogers – to the baby of the family – the “Black-eyed Beauty of Kentucky,” – Fanny.
Please note: Due to technical difficulties, this lecture was not recorded in its entirety.


August 2, 2017


Eric Brooks: Objects of Greatest Admiration: A History of Henry Clay in 25 Objects

Curators tell stories through objects. Ashland Curator Eric Brooks will explore the life and legacy of Henry Clay through 25 objects from Ashland’s collection. This presentation weaves together an amazing collection and the incredible story it tells.

March 8, 2017


Ben Hassett: Restoring the Wolf Pen Mill

Ben Hassett is a millwright with 20 years’ experience in repairing and restoring windmills and watermills. He talks about what it takes to bring historic mills back to life—which he recently has done with the 150-plus year old Wolf Pen Mill in northeastern Jefferson County, Kentucky.